Massimo De Carlo presents White:Work, a new exhibition by McArthur Binion in our London gallery. Throughout his fifty-year practice of assemblage painting, Binion has continually defied classification as an artist. Terms such as abstraction and minimalism have often been applied to his paintings, however Binion’s oeuvre resists such rigid categorisations.
Through the artist’s extensive career, Binion has developed a complex practice, incorporating interwoven personal memories with historical recollection bound by his experience of America in the past, by layering paint and personal memorabilia onto the surface of the work. The artist presents a new series of work, predominantly whitewashed (in the most literal sense), using gestures from the artist’s canon. White:Work is a departure in tonal quality of the solemn hues that dictated the prior DNA (2017) series, when the works made their international debut at the Venice Biennale. In this new exhibition, the grids that create the skeletal structure foundational to Binion’s practice become enveloped in a soft overlay of the colour white, yet subtly remaining at the forefront of the works.
Binion’s works are deeply personal, and the obsessive, exhaustive process of manual labour is inherent in the furrow of grids that dominate the board. Binion fuses personal documents to the boards prior to applying oil paint stick. By doing so, the artist asserts his own existence, whereas the layers of paint encompass the artists’ experience with authority and the art world in the U.S. The intricate surfaces of the boards become abstract shapes and motives: the artist’s archival belongings, that can only be seen when in close proximity to the work, are transformed by the paint into weightily textured patterns and reflect the influence of modernism in Binion’s practice.
The off-white, faded brown and pinkish hues combine earthy lattices next to an expanse of white; transforming the colour white, often conceived as a lack of, into the tonal emphasis of the exhibition. White:Work (black) stands out from the rest of the series, a duo chrome of apposing black to white. Since black comes from the absence of light, and white symbolically is the absence of colour, the duality of this pairing is ever so rarely accidental, verging on brash in contrast to the rest of the pieces.
White:Work presents itself as a muted journey, embodying the essence of Binion’s practice: infusing layers of personal history under the painstaking grids of white and off-white tones. Binion’s work speaks a language of subtlety and sophistication, but through decades of repetition it has matured to a fluency and eloquence that speaks through weightily textured patterns and a post-minimal allure.